We are living in a digital era which is with every year acknowledged a bit more by the European institutions. The European Commission brainstormed last week with the representatives of large tech companies on how to raise consumer awareness of dangers of using apps. Often, consumers upload potentially 'free' applications for which they then purchase various in-app features. Sometimes consumer's credit card will be charged automatically, so he won't even be aware of having made a particular purchase at a given moment. This could be seen as an unfair, potentially misleading commercial practice, since if the consumer knew in advance that he would need to make these payments to use effectively a certain app he might not have installed it in the first place. One way to prevent such practices would be to prohibit direct debit in these apps through default settings. Another point would be to make them less available to children (or provide them with more clear information). At this moment, the European Commission calls for self-regulation of the industry but it could be expected that certain guidelines on this issue would be given to national enforcement authorities of Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. (Commission and Member States to raise consumer concerns with app industry)
For those of you interested in this post, you may find also this new Eurobarometer (Special Eurobarometer 414) survey of use - E-communications Household Survey and Telecom Single Market Survey.